The Used Interview | ThePunkSite.com
|Band: The Used||Members:
Branden and Jeph|
Records ||Location: Toronto, Ontario|
|Date: October 31st 2004||Interviewer:
This past Hallowe'en I had
the chance to interview Branden and Jeph from The Used. Thank
you to them for sitting down with me and thanks to Warner Music for setting
On Hallowe'en night The Used were in full force
taking over Toronto. Since the early hours in the morning this wasn't an average
day; they were all strip searched at the border and forced to wait around outside
in the cold for hours. When they arrived in town they mad an appearance on a local
radio station, Edge 102.1, an in-store acoustic performance at Sam The Record
Man and a bunch of interviews at the venue. But they're no strangers to the Toronto
area, they even filmed the video for their single Take It Away here, and
I asked them why they chose to do so.
BRANDEN: We have friends of ours
that shot videos in Canada and we heard that some of the laws and the ways of
going about shooting in Canada are much simpler than the states, and we were touring
at that time on the east coast, so there were just so many things that kind of
came to the table that made it right that it just worked out perfectly. They had
the perfect locations just like we had envisioned for the video, things like that.
So it worked out really nicely.
With such success with their debut selftitled
album, how much pressure was put on them for a good sophomore release? Not only
from themselves but also from the fans and the label, and where did they want
this record to go, what did they want this record to mean to them?
We wanted to show who we were at that time, you know? Because the first record
describes us how we were at the time when we wrote it and the new album describes
us how we are now.
BRANDEN: We just had to be honest, so we were putting a
lot of pressure on ourselves but it was a good pressure. It was more of a motivation
to work hard and to not half-ass it and really dive deep into writing and recording.
It felt really good because the label, our management, our producer, nobody was
riding us, nobody was giving us shit or making us work. It was all us, and it
was a good feeling to be able to work like that.
JEPH: We didn't care if we
sold one record or five records.
BRANDEN: I think this record was a success
to us before it was released. The fact that we got through it because there were
really hard times and really easy times, and the fact that it turned out exactly
how we wanted it to and not what people wanted or expected or whatever, that made
the record successful and so whatever it sells is just numbers at this point.
Now that the new album In Love And Death is completed and released,
what sort of similarities and differences did the band find in both the writing
and recording process as well as the sound of the finished product?
I think it was different because the selftitled record was everything we had written
up to that point, you know? We recorded every song we had except like two that
were live and learn songs.
GARY: Like 'Just A Little'?
No, 'Just A Little' we actually liked and we recorded and put on the Japan release,
just not the American or Canadian.
JEPH: We actually wanted to save it cause
we liked it so much that we wanted to hide it and keep it special. I wish we were
playing that still...
BRANDEN: The cool thing about this one, the last one
we recorded in about 6 weeks the entire record where this one we did twice as
thing, this was a three month event. When we went into it all it was was cassettes
of progressions, we didn't have a single song completely written and when we went
in it was just the most perfect writing atmosphere you could ask for because we
just had everything set up in the studio, it all sounded incredible in the headphones,
and we were just left completely alone. We could sit and write and write for ten
hours at a time or something, and it was all connected to recording shit so we'd
just yell to an engineer or somebody to hit record when we had an idea we liked.
Then we'd put it down and sit back and listen to it and be like 'alrite what does
this song need, how should the vibe change' which is how songs like Lunacy Fringe
came about and how songs like Hard To Say we thought 'maybe this should only be
piano' and we'd bounce ideas off each other. So we were really able to dive in
much deeper in the writing process.
Since the first record was released
the band has been touring like crazy and haven't had much time to themselves.
So what happened between the end of touring and the beginning of writing for the
JEPH: We started working full time jobs at a retail factory.
BRANDEN: Yeah, yeah. Packing and...
JEPH: We started child labour, opened
some sweat shops in China. I just say the jokey stuff, remember that.
No, no. I don't even know, I mean we did have like five months off which was amazing.
We were all doing different things, we all got to do some fun recreational things.
The other guys went camping alot, I went snowboarding tons, Jeph...
I hung out. See, a joke again, did you hear it?
BRANDEN: Jeph had bought a
house, and Jeph was moving in his house alot. A lot of just normal, I guess a
little more normal living went on. We had some time off and time to just kind
of get our heads back on straight.
JEPH: Just kind of realizing who we were,
you know what I mean? We were on the road so long that you kind of forget and
everything just kind of gets like 'what's going on?' like you can't really figure
out where reality is or what day it is, like I don't know what day it is. So we
got home and just started getting on track and being like 'oh, okay. Here's what's
going on' and trying to wake up and go to bed at normal times.
When you look back is it kind of like 'wow, I've done this?' Maybe you don't realize
it while it's happening but when you look back on it...
JEPH: Yeah, it's
BRANDEN: But it also seems like a dream too, it's like 'wow. Did that
JEPH: Like a white outer area...but it all sort of feels like
that, it's all kind of surreal and I don't know when it's going to become a reality.
Maybe on our death beds we'll realize 'oh shit, that really happened. That was
a good time.' And then we'll shit our pants and die.
Success is a word
which, although only has one definition in the dictionary, means different things
to different people. A person may find success in their career or in their life
where someone else may not see what they have achieved as success. So what does
this word mean to the members of The Used?
BRANDEN: I think it's...to
me it's much more personal than material, you know what I mean? Because originally
it wasnít so much even get signed as much as we didnít want to have jobs and we
just wanted to play music and so the solution to that, of course, is to be on
the road and tour and the solution to that is to get a label to back it, you know
what I mean? So it was really just kind of like, we were all sick of working and
being told what to do, we wanted to play music and live the way we wanted to live.
And so then that happens [getting signed], itís like Ďall right, letís work our
asses offí. And then we got a gold record in the states, and I think now everybodyís
got their own goals and things in mind, and of course we want to continue, we
want to be better musicians, we want to have a better live show, we want to have
a better relationship with our fans and with the people who support us and work
with us, and also just grow up as people and be the best kind of people we can
be and expand at what we do, try other musical things or other instruments, definitely
just broaden everything I guess.
As I mentioned, while they were in town
they performed an acoustic set at the local Sam The Record Man shop downtown.
But with only very few actual acoustic songs, how could they pull it off? How
hard was it for them to convert their songs to an acoustic format? JEPH:
Actually, the old record was harder. The new record, some of the songs just naturally,
for some reason, are easier acoustic.
BRANDEN: For me it's not that hard because
I just don't play, you know?
JEPH: It's more of a jam than really...
It's cool 'cause it's cool to hear them in a different format. We don't prefer
to do those (acoustic performances), so the few times we do do them they're special
because we don't like to. We have a good time doing it, but it's not like 'we
want to do some acoustic performances because we love playing acoustically!'
It's just not us.
BRANDEN: We love killing it and having fun, but when we
do do it acoustically we do have a good time and it is fun to bring out the musician
part, that end of it. There's an old saying or something that any great song can
be played with just an acoustic guitar and a voice, or whatever. Maybe I just
made that up.
In a world of money and greed sometimes bands feel pressure
from a record label or from other people to do things a certain way, which sometimes
changes their artistic vision. How often do the members of The Used have
to fight to keep their art the way they want it?
BRANDEN: I think we really
get lucky in that way because our label is really good to us in the way that they're
never forcing anything on us. Anything we've done, any single we've released,
video we've made has always been by our choice. We choose them, we choose when
we want to release them, we choose which songs, who we want to do the videos with,
we choose who does our artwork in a much more literal sense, you know what I mean?
Our merchandise, everything. So really everything we deal with and do hands on
is what the masses are seeing and getting a hold of and all the business end of
it is just kind of stuff we're filled in about later. There will be a meeting
like once a month, we sit down with our manager who is our brother slash father.
It's so chilled, the business never interferes with the art of all of it which
is nice because it is very important to separate those worlds.
on the latest album was done by artist Alex Pardee. Why did the band choose him
to do the artwork and how did this relationship happen?
JEPH: It's mostly
because his artwork image describes our band, like the way our band is, all of
it. All the artwork just describes us and just fits us more than other artist
on earth. When we first saw it...
BRANDEN: We stumbled over him online and
loved his shit and it turned out he knew of the band and had been to shows, snuck
into shows and was selling his artwork to our fans on the street. He was just
a normal guy, and he knew who we were but at the same time we weren't like this
big band that he was like 'oh my god!'. It worked out real nice, we came into
it as equals and we could work on it and start on a nice ground level.
This past November the United States held a Presidential Election, which George
W. Bush ended up winning. Where do these guys stand on politics and about bands
pushing their political beliefs?
JEPH: We're not a political band at all.
George Bush is a fuck, but other than that...
BRANDEN: We don't get involved
enough for any one of us to preach anything and have it stand any ground because
we're really just talking ignorant if we do try and say 'fuck Kerry' or 'fuck
Bush' because all we know is whatever we watched on CNN the night before or some
JEPH: Pretty much all we know is music, we don't get into that.
BRANDEN: I think it's important that if kids want to, you know, they need
to empower themselves and learn and look into the shit. We're not exactly the
best examples in that way, but there are alot of bands and people out there who
do choose one side and then kind of cram it down everyone's throat, like 'go fucking
vote, go fucking vote! Vote Bush out of office' So it's like 'use your freedom
and vote for this guy' so in the end you're really just telling people what to
do. It's like 'hey go use your freedom and vote my vote! You're going to do it
because you look up to me and my music so you're going to do what I ask you to
do' which is not exactly doing the world a favor. But there are people who do
study this shit and do know a lot about it who are out there and are trying to
spread the message and I do think that's important, but as far as us we kind of
stay out of it cause we don't know shit.
Lastly, a question I always wonder
and love to ask is which songs the bands enjoy personally, both to play live and
to listen to on the album.
JEPH: That's hard, live...Let It Bleed if we
ever play it live, we haven't played it live yet. But every time we sound check
it, it's my favorite song to sound check.
BRANDEN: Blue And Yellow is my favorite
song off the first record.
JEPH: The first one...Say Days Ago. I don't know
it's just neat and rockin.
BRANDEN: I think listening wise, I think Lunacy
Fringe is off and on my favorite off the new record too because it was so different
for us and how it came about was really special. And playing I think...I don't
know, it's hard to say.
JEPH: [I'm A] Fake is my new favorite one to play
live, like actually play live is [I'm A] Fake, that's so fun to play.
So over all this was a successful trip to Canada for The Used. The album
is selling well, the fans are growing in numbers, and the band is continuing on
their upward climb to fame. Who knows what's next for these four Utah natives,
but whatever it is I'm sure it's something they will enjoy.